Evaluating the Direct and Indirect Impact of Traits and Perceptions on Technology Adoption by Women Entrepreneurs in Malaysia

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ABSTRACT

The current research adopts the technology acceptance model (TAM) in examining the relationship between IT adoption, perceived system's ease of use, and the entrepreneurial traits (such as, innovativeness, risk-taking propensity, perseverance, and flexibility) of Malaysia women entrepreneurs. The results show that perceived ease of use has an indirect influence (via perceived usefulness) on adoption. Contrary to TAM, no significant direct relationship was found between perceived ease of use and adoption. Innovativeness and risk-taking propensity were found to determine perceived ease of use and adoption. The findings show that women entrepreneurs are driven by instrumentality in technology adoption. Contrary to the process orientation reported in previous studies for women in general, women entrepreneurs are outcome oriented in technology adoption. Important implications on theory and practice are discussed.

INTRODUCTION

While advances in technology continue with rapidity, the use of these upcoming technologies has fallen below expectations (Ndubisi, Gupta & Massoud, 2003; Johansen & Swigart, 1996; Wiener, 1993; Moore, 1991) and has been identified as one of the plausible explanations for the productivity paradox (Sichel, 1997; Landauer, 1995). A number of studies have shown that successful investment in technology can reap immense benefits for the adopting individuals and organisations (Doms et al 2003; Gretton et al. 2002; Bennett et al. 2003). On the basis of these benefits, various governments have been motivating their business communities particularly entrepreneurs, to avail themselves of the benefits of these technological advances. Despite these significant technological advances and increasing governmental investments in promoting IT usage at individual and organizational levels, it is still unclear, the extent of IT usage among women entrepreneurs, the determinants of usage, and the role of personal traits. Clearly, understanding the determinant structure of these key variables is critical for researchers, entrepreneurs, as well as systems developers and vendors targeting entrepreneurs.

The focus of this research on women entrepreneurs reflects the growing number and importance of women owned businesses (Michaels 2006) around the globe. Michaels (2006) reported that the number of women-owned businesses in the US grew at twice the rate of all firms between 1997 and 2002, jumping 14 percent to 6.2 million. Cowling and Taylor (2001) reported that proportionately, three times as many male self-employed in 1991 had gone on to become job creating self-employed by 1995. The research is precipitated by the fact that entrepreneurs (especially women) are a distinct and important group, which unfortunately has not received well-deserved research attention in Malaysia. Moreover, entrepreneurs have been reported in personality and psychological research as exhibiting unique traits that distinguish them from other user groups, which traits could have different implications on their usefulness and ease of use perceptions and adoption of computer technologies.

In this study, perceived ease of use is investigated to understand its determinants (namely users' traits), and its impact on adoption of computer technologies by women entrepreneurs. Studies comparing the salience of perceived usefulness and ease of use between male and female users of technology have shown that perceived usefulness is more important for male users while female users emphasize ease of use in technology usage decisions. For example, Venkatesh et al., (2000) reported higher instrumentality (i.e. outcome) for men and higher process orientation (ease of use/difficulty) for women in technology adoption decisions. Hennig and Jardim (1977), Rotter and Portugal (1969) have earlier shown that women tend to focus on the methods used to accomplish a task--suggesting a greater process orientation. Given the process-orientation of women, it is the aim of this study to examine the preponderance of ease of use over usefulness with respect to computer technology adoption by women entrepreneurs. …